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To think that having sympathy for killers and criminals has gone too far?

(23 Posts)
jeanvaljean Mon 08-Oct-12 10:09:37

Yesterday I was talking to an acquaintance who has very strong views on non-violence. She firstly brought up the subject of Abu Hamza and how 'disgusting' it was that he had been extradited to the 'wicked' US. This absolutely appalled her. She was particularly furious that his hook had been removed (?) - she seemed to think it was some sort of vindictive act of a spiteful state. I said that due process had been followed and personally I felt he should have been extradited a long time ago, and that the UK has been more than fair to him. I didn't know about the hook thing but I suggested it was to stop him hurting himself or other people, just as they probably removed his shoelaces.

She then said 'What about the man who killed those two policewomen - I thought that was awful', yes I agreed that was terrible, she said 'That poor man - I hope the police treated him properly, they could hurt him! How do they know he even did it?'. After I picked my jaw off the floor I replied that he it seems very clear that he was the perpetrator, and that he had handed himself in and I'm sure the police didn't treat him any differently to anyone else. Then I asked her if she had more sympathy for him than the 2 women he killed? After a long pause she said 'Maybe not more, but just as much'.

Warming to her barmy theme, she then moved on to Anders Brevik. I thought she couldn't possibly have the same view of someone who killed 80 people, most of them children. But no, she excelled herself even here - she felt sorry for him, he was a 'lost soul'. She was very reluctant to express any sympathy for his victims, or their relatives, and it was clear she really felt more for him than them.

Now obviously these are all complex issues, and the reasons criminals behave in the way they do are manifold. But while I think we must seek to understand why people have chosen to commit heinous acts I draw the line at feeling sympathy for them.

I didn't think people like her existed and I'm now wondering if some of the more puzzling decisions by courts relating to criminals, and particularly human rights decisions on criminal asylum seekers, can be explained by people like her. This phenomenon of dismissing the victims, the victims relatives, and the affront to our whole society, to concentrate wholly on the 'poor' perpetrator whose rights may be violated must be down to people like her in positions of power in the legal system.

I wonder if their motivation is a kind of 'holier than thou' feeling they get because they are so Jesus-like they can feel more sympathy for criminals than victims. It's perverse.

AIBU to think this is very worrying? And AIBU to think she was off her rocker?!

MrsjREwing Mon 08-Oct-12 10:12:32

I am glad he is gone.

I think to supply some sort of device to help the man piss for himself is the sign of a civilised society.

AMumInScotland Mon 08-Oct-12 10:30:27

I don't think your aquaintance's point of view is usual - most people are still pretty quick to condemn the criminal, even before they've been convicted. Even people who say "they must have been damaged by their early life to do such a thing" don't tend to feel more concern for the criminal than for the victim.

And I don't think there are that many people in power who think that way either. We hear about cases that sound very odd, but the media don't usually explain why those decisions were made, as they're more interested in making headlines and creating controversy than in giving us an unbiased view of why the decision was made.

WorraLiberty Mon 08-Oct-12 10:33:07

Blimey that's quite a conversation to have all at once grin

YABU, she sounds bonkers.

WorraLiberty Mon 08-Oct-12 10:33:46

Oh I fucking meant YANBU but my 'N' key clearly doesn't agree

itwasallyellow Mon 08-Oct-12 10:43:47

Your friend is mad.

Nancy66 Mon 08-Oct-12 10:45:02

She'll end up being one of those loons who marries someone on death row

ithinkimightbegoingmad Mon 08-Oct-12 10:46:26

shes a 'rescuer' innit?

jeanvaljean Mon 08-Oct-12 10:58:00

Worra - Yes I agree it was quite a conversation!

She was very insistent in all this, and while I persevered with challenging her I started to feel like perhaps I was some raving extremist and the world was topsy-turvy.

CrackerJackShack Mon 08-Oct-12 11:08:14

Wow. I'm one of these die hard liberals who don't believe in the death penalty and think that most criminals are the result of failings in society (i.e. domestic violence, sexual abuse, neglect), etc. And I don't believe in extradition to a death penalty State (but again, I'm against the death penalty). But feel worse for or as bad as a killer or any other criminal than the victim?? Hells bells no!

catwomanlikesmeatballs Mon 08-Oct-12 11:10:29

I remember seeing a documentary with a specialist pschyologist who deals with pschyopaths and he was saying that the moment you start empathising with these people you become like them and lose your moral compass.

I'd find a new friend to be honest, these people aren't right in the head, it's the same mental illness that had dimwits setting up pages in honour of Raoul Moat have. The love evil.

catwomanlikesmeatballs Mon 08-Oct-12 11:11:38

That was worded terribly, edit function needed on mumsnet!

dysfunctionalme Mon 08-Oct-12 11:14:27

Sounds like your friend likes to play devil's advocate.

Tbh there is usually a god-awful life story behind perpetrators of people who do crazed/murderous things but really, the victims deserve first sympathies.

seeker Mon 08-Oct-12 11:15:11

I think that next time you want to start a debate, your opening essay should be more credible. I am the worsk kind of trendy lefty bleeding heart liberal and have been for 40 years and I have never even heard of a conversation like that happening.

meditrina Mon 08-Oct-12 11:20:04

The bit of sympathy for a murderer which I find wrong every time I hear/see it, is that towards Ronnie Biggs. Jack Mills was beaten to death during the robbery.

ppeatfruit Mon 08-Oct-12 11:28:12

I have heard people like that seeker DM is a bit like that!!

On radio 4 there are discussions where people say things like it's a human right to have a child or a family life etc. even when referring to obvious pyschos.

IMO It's a human responsibility to have a child and it's not easy. There are a lot of DCs born to people who are not at all responsible and are even sexual abusers. BTW I'm not a D.M. reader grin

jeanvaljean Mon 08-Oct-12 11:28:19

Seeker - I'm sorry you think this is made up. This is a real conversation I had yesterday. The person concerned is a Quaker. When she was getting annoyed with me I said to her 'I understand that you feel this way because you're a Quaker but I can't agree with it' and she replied that more than being a Quaker she was concerned with non-violence. I have had odd conversations with her before but nothing of this bonkers-ness.

ppeatfruit Mon 08-Oct-12 11:35:10

Yes jean It's the N.T. Christian 'turn the other cheek' philosophy, then other christians will argue the opposite O.T. 'eye for an eye" etc. you can't win IMO.

seeker Mon 08-Oct-12 11:37:24

It is perfectly possible to have sympathy for a murderer and also have sympathy for the victims. In both cases, "there but for fortune go you or me". Having sympathy does not mean wanting themto be let off, or not locked up forever.

It is even more possible to have sympathy for the family and friends of a murderer. I suspect there is not much difference in the intensity of grief of the mother of a murderer or the mother of a murder victim.

ppeatfruit Mon 08-Oct-12 11:50:59

Does anyone remember someone suggesting that the killers in the july 7th tube bombing should be remembered at the same service of Remembrance as the victims? bleedin' barmy.

bakingaddict Mon 08-Oct-12 11:53:49

It's an interesting discussion, I think certain sectors of the media glamorise criminals and can schew the publics' response to them so it's more sympathy than scorn they receive.

Lke meditrina I have always been puzzled by the sympathy towards Ronnie Biggs, after all he was a murdering, thieving scrote but in the media he's described as being like some wonderful 'salt of the earth' type who just did a bit of thieving to get by instead of somebody who deprived a family of a husband and father. While a lot of criminals are the product of failings in society you cant use this to explain each and every criminal/murderer, some are just natural evil bastards

CrackerJackShack Mon 08-Oct-12 11:56:37

If I recall correctly the Columbine shooters were remembered in the memorial there? Or crosses were raised for them or something.

Sometimes when you hear about the horribly abusive pasts of some killers I can't help but feel sympathy for the child they were, and anger at the adult they were allowed to become. And I most certainly, as seeker said feel sympathy for some of their parents (though not many, simply because they usually are the reason a killer becomes a killer to begin with).

For example, Jeffrey Dahmer's family seemed to be quite a loving, normal one. Yet he was a monster. I do feel bad for his mother and father.

catgirl1976 Mon 08-Oct-12 11:57:21

I'm a crackpot liberal who doesn't believe in the death penality or removing freedoms in the name of "security". I can also feel sympathy for killers etc. In the Bulger case, those two boys had pretty terrible upbringings.

However, seeking to understand why such terrible things happen and having empathy for the circumstances that can drive a person to such things is a long way from excusing them

I certainly have far more sympathy for the victims.

Your friends sounds OTT bonkers though.

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